Cheap Dave's Home Theater


HDTV 720p vs. 1080i

A friend of mine asked me a question about HDTV - 1080p vs. 1080i. So I wanted to address this in the Cheap Dave manner. So Bill Johnson (I will use his name becasue with a name like Bill Johnson you are basically anonymous) get's the honor of being the first person to suggest a topic.

A friend of mine asked me a question about HDTV - 1080p vs. 1080i. So I wanted to address this in the Cheap Dave manner. So Bill Johnson (I will use his name becasue with a name like Bill Johnson you are basically anonymous) get's the honor of being the first person to suggest a topic.

I think one of the problems with the implementation of HDTV has been an over-complexity. When you start forcing people to ask a lot of questions about technical details they may just wait until things get simpler. (Think internet before browsers).

To make it simple I will tell you that generally the "P" means more resolution than "I" and then the higher number also mean more. So 1080I has more resolution than 720i but actually has less than 720p. 1080P is really the highest out there right now.

But here is where the Cheap Dave philosophy kicks in. You don't really want to be an early adopter (the bleeding edge of technology). Right now 1080P displays are very expensive. Plus I read an article recently that says some of them don't even have a 1080P input. So the Cheap Dave way is to see what is available at your price point, see what it does and if it gives you what you want buy it. Don't wait.

Also by not being an early adopter you pay less and there is more material out there. I don't think there is very much material for 1080P right now. So you would pay a lot for it and you may not be able to see the difference for a year or more. (check with you cable company or satellite company and see what formats they are going to support. Also until HD-DVD or BluRay comes out you won't see any real difference when watching DVDs.

If you are looking at projectors or plasma TVs the specs will list which HDTV formats it handles. My projector is 1366x768 resolution so it can do 720P without having to compress it. It looks amazing. So I don't know if 1080P will make that much difference. This is on a huge screen. (60" high). So on a plasma set 50" or less I would be surprised if you see a big difference.

Right now there are plasma sets that say they are EDTV (enhanced definition). This is basically 480P. They are much less expensive than HDTV. If you mainly want to watch DVDs on one this might be a good deal for you. Since that is a really good match for the resolution of a DVD.

Also keep in mind that most of these improvements have less impact than the one before it.

Black and white TV to color, big improvement, regular TV to HDTV big improvement, 720P to 1080P better but not as dramatic.